The 7 Stages of Social Media

The Important Journey for Association Marketers - As you increase your presence social media pla...

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Analog vs Digital

Where is Your Association - Many associations have been slow to adopt a digital first policy. Boom...

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Upcoming Events & Webinars


ASAE Virtual Demo Days

June 29th & 30th, 2020

Join our Demo Creating a Digital Hub for Virtual & Hybrid Events at ASAE Virtual Demo Days June 29th at 3:15 pm EDT.

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ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting 2020

Aug 10-12, 2020

Register for ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting to see Dan Stevens present on "Is Social Media Stealing Your Members?" Secure the future by learning, connecting, and achieving more by working to...

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Non Dues-a-Palooza

Sept. 24, 2020 | Nashville, TN

An association experience like you’ve never seen. From the creators of AMS Fest, we bring you a full day of non dues revenue ideas, case studies, demos and tons of fun — including beer at lu...

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Content Marketing: 15 Minutes on the Latest Lessons You Need To Know (Don’t Let the Bird Scare You)

How one giant bird taught Spanish to millions using the power of fear. In September 2021, the social media coordinator for the popular language-learning app Duolingo posted a video on TikTok that earned 3.6 million views.  If you’re like me and you hear about a brand going viral, your first question is probably: What happened? What could Duolingo post to get so popular? Explosions and car chases? A list of their many product features? A customer testimonial? No. The six-second video features their social media coordinator being terrorized in a boardroom by a seven-foot tall green owl.  And you might be thinking this is just a flash in the pan; brands pop all the time then we forget about them and their bottom line remains the same. But two months later, Duolingo’s follower count had risen from 100,000 to 1.7 million. And people weren’t just watching their content – they were interacting with it too. For context, most marketing experts agree a good engagement rate is anywhere from 1% to 5%.  Duolingo’s engagement rate hovers around 19%. That means about one in five people who see Duolingo’s content likes, comments on or shares it.  One video sparked a meme that transformed Duolingo’s online persona and skyrocketed their brand to international relevance among the youngest and hardest to reach audience. As for their product, Duolingo is now the fourth highest ranking education app in the world.  When done right, this is the power of content marketing.   What is content marketing? Whether you’re a marketer, an association leader or an audience member, you’ve probably seen the term and wondered to yourself, what is content marketing? We can probably trust the definition from the good folks at the Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Put simply, this is creating content your audience wants to see that stimulates interest in you. It’s hard to navigate today’s digital world without experiencing a little content marketing. We all live our lives online to varying degrees, whether it’s through social media or our endless piles of emails or just coming home after work to sit on the couch and fall down the YouTube rabbit hole until it’s time for bed.  And I bet you, if you searched your inbox or scrubbed through your subscriptions right now, you’d find an instance of you being marketed to, whether you knew it or not. Maybe it’s your favorite podcast brought to you by Squarespace, or a brand’s newsletter you signed up for a few months ago to stay up-to-date in finance or tech. Blog posts, podcasts, YouTube and other online videos, newsletters, even TV shows and documentaries, are all examples of content marketing tactics, or actions used to achieve a marketing goal. These tactics make up the larger, overarching strategy.  Say you’re the head of a dirt bike association. Your top three goals might be to engage your membership, grow your base and make money. So you corner your sales and marketing people and poke ‘em with sharp sticks until they spit out a plan.  Goals: Engage your members, grow your audience and sell memberships. Okay, so what’s the roadmap that will help you get from where you are now, to accomplishing all those goals? That takes strategy. So let’s pick one. Strategy: Communicate that your association is the authority in your industry. Alright, people want the best, and if you can show them you’re the best, people will want you, right? So, how do you communicate to people that you’re the authority in your industry? Well, you need a "big idea," so let's think it through. If they’re interested in dirt bikes, they might be interested in meets and races. Some of those people are probably interested in winning those races and you have a ton of resources to help them make that happen, so you’ll want to go with a big idea that gets them what they want, grows your members, creates a positive association with your brand and all that good stuff. Big idea: Our association is the resource you need to win your next big race. Boom, now you’ve got the bones of a campaign. You decide you’ll let your marketing department eat for another day if they come up with tactics that accomplish this strategy: social posts, an inbound marketing campaign and even a landing page on your website to tie everything together, all promoting your resources to win motocross races. But then they come back to you with a nearly incomprehensible idea. What if we create an entire documentary on all our members who have won races? We could show awesome footage, have them explain their strategies and say nice things about our association all in one go? They go on to use strange words like content marketing and engagement. But why on earth would we sink that much time and energy into marketing when we could just send an email or put up some billboards and call it a day? What about good ol’ fashioned sales, and traditional advertising? Well, let’s talk about it.   content marketing vs. Traditional Advertising: Commercials, Taglines and Don Draper, Oh no! The earliest ads are traced back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Rome, where tavern owners and merchants put signs on the front of their establishments to let passersby know of the good stuff inside. Then, advertising arguably hit its golden age during the birth and rise of television in 50s and 60s America. From Rome to Ray-Ban, all traditional ads exhibit three common rules: It's an interruption  It’s propaganda It’s paid for You don’t get to choose when you watch a TV commercial, it just shows up when you’re trying to watch Jeopardy. The commercial is typically composed of information of a biased nature used to promote the advertiser’s point of view, which sure sounds like propaganda to me. Then, the advertiser must pay the network every time the commercial airs, otherwise, it goes exactly nowhere. And let’s not forget, even when it does air, there’s no real way of measuring whether or not a commercial helped move the advertiser toward their goal. Some examples of traditional advertising tactics you’ve probably encountered are: Television commercials Billboards Print ads Radio spots Telemarketing Over the years, brands have spent billions on developing these tactics to present solutions to your challenges. If you’re a geek about this stuff like me, you probably have a few favorite examples, like the classic self-deprecating Volkswagen print ads or the groundbreaking Man Your Man Could Smell Like Old Spice campaign. Trouble is, most people, and most people in your audience, probably aren’t marketing geeks like me. Most people are completely “ad fatigued” and this is in no small part due to a natural evolution. Remember radio? People used to be crazy for radio, listening to all kinds of music and shows. There were always ads for soap flakes and the military, but we didn’t care because they were few and far between. Plus, the alternative was going outside and playing with that wheel and stick thing.  But then in the 1950s, people started buying TVs. All of a sudden, radio listenership was dropping like a stone and stations had to do something to pay the bills. So they started selling more ads. Over the years, listenership kept dropping and ads kept taking up more and more of the airspace. Fast forward to today, and I can’t think of the last time I heard a song on the radio.  I say all this to say the same thing happened to TV with the advent of the internet. But so too did it happen to the physical world. Billboards, bus benches, posters, from your telephone to Times Square, ads, ads, ads, as far as the eye can see, interrupting us. People see upwards of 10,000 advertisements every day. Of all those ads, how many really break through? Who is really getting their money's worth from all that media buy? The forward-thinking marketers knew there’d be a breaking point where we’d hit total saturation. And some folks, like John Oppendahl, figured there had to be a better way. John was a newspaper publisher, and in 1996, he was speaking at an industry roundtable when he coined the term “content marketing” to refer to ideas like Weight Watchers Magazine, a wildly popular periodical that contained fat-loss tips and tricks as well as opinion pieces on women's issues. It also generated a hell of a lot of interest in Weight Watchers. Suddenly, everyone and their marketing coordinator was scrambling to incorporate this shiny new strategy into their marketing. Associations developed deeply informative trade magazines, Hasbro developed a whole smorgasbord of awesome Saturday-morning cartoons like Transformers and G.I. Joe, and suddenly every brand had its own blog, divulging trade secrets to a dedicated fandom. This meant audiences were no longer being begged for their attention. They were begging brands for more content. And the best part? Content works. In fact, studies show overall growth rates are up to 30% higher in companies that incorporate content marketing into their strategy. And you don’t need a doctorate to understand why these content marketing models kick ass. Just think about our association’s dirt biking documentary from before, vs a traditional advertising model. Remember, advertising is an interruption, (blegh), propaganda (yuck) and costs a ton of money (eek!). Put that up against an association-led documentary. This is marketing that’s permission based, (ooh!) tells the stories of real people (wowie) and can be entirely self-funded through sponsorships (jinkies!). And it’s not just the fact that this works better for your bottom line. More importantly, this is a way forward for audiences and marketers that doesn’t suck out our souls. How many more billboards can we make? How many more emails can we blast?  These are very different questions than, how many more minds can we blow? How many more laughs can we share? How many more lives can we change?   how Does content marketing work: What we Can learn from duolingo Let’s get back to the terrifying bird. The point here is not that Duolingo made content for content’s sake. Duolingo took all of marketing’s best practices and worked to build them into an overarching strategy.  See, it’s important to note this wasn’t the first video Duolingo posted. They had already published 31 videos, all of which earned between 45,000 and 550,000 views. They were playing the content game, like many businesses, by saying what they wanted to say. They have videos of how to use their app, helpful examples of real-world language lessons and promos for their events. And with every video they released, they got half-decent views for an internationally respected brand, 40 thousand here, 200 thousand there. But if you look at the comments of those videos, you’ll see a trend.  As soon as Duolingo posted the first video that prominently featured their owl mascot, aptly named “Duo,” the video popped off with 1.4 million views. But the real value was in the comments, that were filled with jokes making reference to the app’s reminder system. See, how Duolingo works, is you pick the language you want to learn, and they set you on course with a daily lesson. If you don’t open the app in 24 hours, you’ll get a popup reminder. These reminders increase over time and if you stay away from the app long enough, they’ll change to more pointed jabs like, “Your Japanese lessons won’t take themselves,” or the slightly more ominous, “These reminders don’t seem to be working. We’ll stop sending them for now.” So after a few popular videos all got a ton of comments making jokes about the audiences’ fear for their lives if they didn’t complete their Spanish lesson — with one clever commenter posting “Please give my brother back,” Duo did what very few brands do and got on the same wavelength as their audience. Remember in our recent post about word-of-mouth marketing where we said propaganda written by its audience is representation, and that’s all people really want? Creating a two-way line of communication, meeting your consumer where they are, and acting with authenticity and transparency are often, not always, the keys that separate successes from failures, and turn a profitable brand into a beloved brand. So many companies tout their dedication to their customer, yet still pump out piece after piece of content that only speaks to their shareholders. Do you think any of Duolingo’s board members were asking for a villainous mascot? But they let Zaria Parvez, (now Duolingo's global social media manager), do her job. The audience noticed and supported that creativity and authenticity, and Duolingo’s bottom line rose to the top of its industry. Duolingo stopped saying what they thought they should say, and started creating content people actually wanted to see. This skyrocketed their reach, created a positive association with their brand, and ultimately, made themselves top-of-mind in their audience when it was time to pick a language-learning app.  Content, meet marketing. 🤝   Okay, so, Content Marketing key takeaways 1. Content first, marketing second. Create your content with your audience of real people in mind; people who want to laugh or learn or be inspired by the things they watch. Be careful not to create content that only works to market. 2. Listen, speak, rinse, repeat. Like all marketing, success comes in iterations. When you're creating your content, make sure you have a plan in place to collect feedback from your audience. Then, use that feedback to guide your future decision making. 3. It's time for your Spanish lesson. Hoo! Want help starting your own content marketing journey? We invite you to join us in Rosemont, Illinois for .orgCommunity’s Solutions Day on September 29. Associations Solutions Jeff Baker will be delivering our presentation, Embracing Docuseries Models to Future-proof Your Profession/Industry. He’ll reveal the actionable insights we’ve learned while designing, creating and executing association-centric docuseries. If you want to learn how to take the concepts we've just discussed and apply them to your brand, I strongly recommend you check it out by hitting the button at the bottom of this post to visit the Solutions Day registration page and sign up.  

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Afraid of the Office? Top 3 Keys To Make Your Association a Kick-ass Place to Work According to History

Caution: No turtles were harmed in the making of this blog. Correction error: In the podcast, I suggest the East India Company first moved into their office in Britain in the 19th Century, when it was in fact the 18th Century. The article has been updated with the correct century. We’ve all heard tales from friends and family of these luscious workspaces with ping-pong tables, Friday beers and unlimited PTO. But today, many people think of a great workplace as not even one specific place at all, with many employers opting for a permanent remote work setup after a trial proved prosperous during the pandemic. After all, if it’s not broke, why fix it? And if it’s not broke and it boosts employee morale and productivity, why not make it company policy? Today, we’re going to talk about the three major categories your association — and really any business — can optimize to make a kick-ass workplace. Now, my boss would give me a stern talking to if I wrote this whole post with the single point of employee satisfaction, so rest assured these tips will encourage a boost in productivity and revenue.   1. Corporate Culture This category covers the look, feel and operation of your association. How do people interact with each other? Is that interaction encouraged to be a free and open dialogue, or are employees' voices knowingly drawn to a hush as leadership walks past? Do you have a culture club that organizes team-building activities and social events? Are folks busy enjoying their work, or working to look busy?   2. Work-life balance The age-old battle between how much you should be working and how much you should be living. This will look different at different workplaces and positions in each workplace’s hierarchy. Some members of leadership see their elevated status as a privilege and spend every waking hour worrying about work, while others see it as a laurel to rest on as they practice their short game in their corner office before taking off early. But what’s the right balance that gets stuff done, keeps your employees happy and your members engaged?    3. Product Depending on your product category, this could be your most important contributor to having a kick-ass workplace. For brevity, we’re going to bucket all the output of your association into this category, so your product includes things like your membership benefits, courses and events, but also your communications like your member emails and social media. If your product kicks ass, you have a great chance of attracting people who want to kick ass.   But first, a brief history of “the office” as a concept. The idea of an office, or a physical place in which a person sits down to work, isn’t new. What are now towering skyscrapers of steel and glass started as modest, quiet rooms in monasteries and churches. In these rooms, people would sit and write with a feather quill and parchment, usually to produce copies of religious texts or write letters. University of Technology Research Fellow, Augustin Chevez and Senior Lecturer, DJ Huppatz note one early example of the office in classical art: Botticelli’s “Saint Augustine in His Study,” painted all the way back in 1480. Early business magnates like the Rothschilds and the Barings lived and worked out of their giant manors. By the late 17th Century, lawyers, doctors and government employees were toiling in offices built all across Europe. But the earliest example of the office as we know it today, a building full of rooms with desks and chairs where people chat, drink coffee and sometimes even work, seems to have been built, like most things, out of necessity.  In the mid-18th Century, the East India Company needed a physical space to store their piles and piles of ledgers, forms and other important artifacts that managed their transactions all over the world. They moved into one of the earliest examples of purpose-built office space in Britain and in doing so, “They created the bureaucracy to process information and make decisions about things that were taking place thousands of miles away," according to Swansea University's Huw Bowen.  Then just before the turn of the century, the railroad became a thing, and everything changed. Local businesses became national. Magnates across the country saw practically unlimited profit in a new business landscape 2,800 miles wide and made haste like they were chugging rocket fuel. When they did, shop clerks who were once able to calculate their quarterly shipments, do their weekly inventory and tally their daily sales on a few pieces of paper or in their head, were now scrambling to keep track in a truly United States of America. More ledgers, more documents, more copies, more clerks, more bookkeepers, more offices. When it came to company culture in previous centuries, your outlook as an employee was generally rough. You were typically in the office for 12 hours a day, 6 days per week, with little room for impact or creativity – most people were human emails or photocopiers.      Benefits were slim, with accounts of some employees having their Christmas bonuses cut – and if a Christmas bonus sounds like a luxury to you, just know that it was actually a common practice for employers to dole out amounts to every employee equal to roughly ten percent of their annual wage. One disgruntled employee even diarized his distaste for the East India Company when it did away with the “yearly turtle feast.” Upward mobility was nearly nonexistent unless the person above you died, which wasn’t all that uncommon with the rate of stress, depression and even suicides, such as one employee leaping out of a company window.  Fast forward to the last ten years, and our whole environment has changed, as well as our outlook. We abolished the six-day work week and established unions, corporate culture and equal rights – kind of. We’ve had surges of job shortages, then labor shortages and the rise of #hustleculture — a capitalist phenomenon perpetuating the myth that you could be just like Elon if you worked hard enough. Then a global pandemic hit and everything changed again. Restaurants, retail outlets and yes, offices around the world closed their doors as we entered lockdown. Millions of people were laid off or furloughed, while millions more were sent off with their laptops and their monitors to work from home. Just as the railroad brought monumental change to business in the 1800s, so too did remote work in 2020.  Most people who could do their jobs from home say they never worked remotely before the pandemic. Now, 71 percent are working from home all, or most, of the time and more than half want to keep it that way. Like leadership expert Jamie Notter says, when the pandemic hit and we allowed our employees to work from anywhere they wanted, we put an enormous amount of power in their hands. As our world recovers and opens back up for business, most people aren’t just going to give that power back.  Now of course it’s true, there will always be people who like getting up, putting on a uniform and traveling to a physical space where they can be part of a work community. But for many of us, working from home saves a life changing amount of time and money, from packing meals – or eating out – to two hours spent on the freeway every day. It really comes down to the individual and the workspace, and for policy makers and people leaders, this should be the most exciting time in your career. Great destabilization always results in great change, and you have the power in your hands to decide what that change looks like.     Right now, you decide the future of work for not just your employees, but for the future of our country.  You decide… How to make your association a kick-ass workplace The three following buckets are not in any particular order, but it’s important to note that they all come after the most important factor of any job as stated by employees. If you believe in stuff like reports, surveys and studies, the number one factor in recruiting and retaining quality employees is pay.  There’s no getting around it, it’s always been the biggest selling point and the ultimate dealbreaker. You’ll see incredible benefits in recruiting high-quality talent through being transparent with your wage – especially on things like job postings and in interviews, working to keep your salaries competitive, and keeping up with evidence-based cost-of-living raises as a baseline on which to tack merit-based raises. As companies, we can talk about loyalty and passion all we want, but if your employee can’t pay their bills and sees a job posting for half the work and twice the pay with your competitor, it’s an easy decision. Many companies today are taking on the mindset of paying as little as possible for as much as possible, but we see time and time again that this leads to higher rates of attrition, crazy burnout and lower-quality products. Plus, it’s always more expensive to hire a new employee than to offer a 30% raise that keeps a proven trustee.   1. Corporate Culture From instilling employees with a sense of purpose and motivation to drive performance outcomes, productivity and ultimately, revenue, to just having a pleasant day-to-day experience, corporate culture is so critically important and this is a relatively easy and inexpensive channel to make minor tweaks for huge results. One of the biggest ways to establish a healthy company culture is just demonstrating care from the top down. Research from shows that when a leader takes steps to actively mentor their employees, the majority of employees in turn feel like part of a larger purpose, feel a stronger connection with their organization and more than double their motivation. This connection between leadership and employees is proving to be especially important among the next generation of workers, too. 82% of Gen Zs say it’s important their leader not only help them set performance goals, but care about their lives. In the same article, they also mention a steadfast attention to employees “above and beyond” actions, and responding to them with swift thank yous. Bringing in baked goods, setting up a company brunch or just making Friday a half-day are all great, tangible, no-strings-attached ways of creating an environment of comfort, wonder and inspiration. Key takeaway: Encourage, engage, inspire. Set up your workplace in such a way that you’d want your kids to work there, from their first job to their retirement party. Give your leadership team and your employees opportunities to connect – and be sure to steer clear of making them spend their personal time when doing so.    2. Work-life balance I’m going to defer to leadership expert, Jamie Notter, who has a terrific Forbes article on this subject. To boil it down, he presents two options: go back to the old, structured, nine to five factory-line style work schedule with commutes and lunchroom chatter and all that good stuff. If you choose this option, you need to communicate your rationale to your employees. You need to explain to them why it makes the most sense for their work and how that gives you the best chance at achieving your business objectives.  You may have seen a dip in productivity during the work-from-home era, complete with employee complaints of isolation and deteriorating mental health. Again, while the idea of an office is now largely being denounced as outdated, it’s important to remember that there are tons of jobs that require bodies in a given location, and there are a ton of people who thrive on that structure and routine. Realize that you need to make the choice that works best for your company but go in aware that you may risk losing talent if they realize that another mode of work that you're not willing to support works better for them. So it's best to open a dialogue with valued employees regardless of your decision. Another option is to discover what works best for your employees and your business through a data-driven approach and offer as much flexibility as possible. It’s not about allowing a free-for-all for your employees, it’s about considering individual needs and working styles. Let people know they’re free to come in, or they’re free to stay home. Allow your leadership team to set up in-person meetings for critical events or discussions as needed, and measure the outcomes. Discover how your employees work their best and use that data to inform your policy moving forward. Key takeaway: Gather data from your KPIs and feedback from your employees. Discuss options with your leadership team, and then come to a decision that keeps your employees happy – read: engaged – while optimizing your business outcomes. 3. Product Don’t sell soap, sell hope. Your product is what you deliver to your customer. In order for your employees to feel that ever-important sense of purpose, to work hard and chase that fulfillment, to become inspired, that product needs to be something that’s impacting your customers lives in a meaningful way.  In short, you need to have a product people can get behind, in order for people to want to get behind it.  If you’re concerned that this doesn’t apply to you, that maybe your product isn’t perfect or different enough or developed enough to warrant cheerleaders and a swing jazz band, then good news! No product is perfect. From iPhones, to associations, to industrial cleaning supplies, everyone is still working on their offering – and like some genius once said, if you’re not innovating, you’re dying. So what this means in practical next steps for your association, is this is as much a matter of perception as it is a matter of product quality and support.  Warning: I’m about to lick boots, but I promise it’s genuine. No one is paying me extra to include this.  At WorkerBee.TV, we just finished celebrating our 15th anniversary. Fifteen years! That’s longer than most startups and fifteen years longer than my last marriage! I kid. But the truth is, we haven’t had 15 successful years of developing objective-smashing videos for an incredible and ever-expanding roster of kick-ass clients all because we make the best videos, no. Yes, our videos kick ass, but there’s big-budget studios out there where you can pay millions to have Nolan-esque productions complete with explosions and car chases to promote your business. Sure, they won’t know the first thing about your needs as an association, (but we kind of stand alone in that category, so you can’t blame them). We’ve had fifteen successful years, first and foremost, because our president in chief Dan Stevens believes in a mission: "To make it simple, beneficial and profitable for our clients to continually inform, educate and inspire their community – anywhere, anytime and on any device." He believes so deeply and so truly, in the value of that mission that he’s dedicated most of the waking moments of his life to helping it come true for people. I’ve seen it first hand, the look on clients' faces when they get the first viewing of the video they’ve been waiting for. When we show them their new platform hosting all their incredible content. When their non-dues revenue skyrockets.  In Dan’s own words, our “how” changes every year. We’re always growing, bringing in new people who are drawn toward the magnetic field of our team’s enthusiasm and communal passion. It feels like every other month now, I’m waving hello to a new hire who quickly picks up and puts out the effort and refined talent in our products.  We’ve gone from a six-person crew above a blinds store to a 50+ employee international business. We have custom-made honeycomb-shaped lighting in our warehouse-sized office. We have a giant map in our office kitchen with little pins in all the different places we’ve done shoots, and when that board got put up and all of us stood around and popped our pins in all the wonderful places we've been, the look on Dan’s face was the look of a proud father watching his children grow up and be successful – which Dan also has.     But without all that, we’d still have our mission and our people. People who encourage, who mentor, who take big chances that could fail massively but feel okay, because they know we’re around to help them get back up. They may come and go, but when you work a job that makes an impact, you’ll always leave a mark. Alright, alright, I’m disgusting myself, but you get the point. If you have a president, or a leadership team that’s so passionate about your product and what it does for people, you’re setting up a workplace with a mission. If you can get people invested in your idea, then they’ll carry that into their work all the way through to your external communications – which means your customers will see it too. And if there’s one thing people like to support, it’s what they believe in. Key takeaway: Believe in what you’re doing and in time, other people will too. Now you know how to make your association into a kick-ass workplace So remember, first and foremost, pay your talent a living wage. Once you’ve negotiated that, you don’t need three months PTO, trips to Disneyland and an Xbox in the break room. All you need is a meaningful mission, the wisdom to listen to the people helping you accomplish it, and the followthrough to act on their feedback. And if you ever find yourself searching for direction along the way, well, a great man once said...  Rule #1: Go with your heart.

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